I’ve been getting a lot of questions about hair care from friends and readers. As you may know hair is as uniquely different as each and every one of us. No one is alike and neither is anyone’s hair even if our hair may look similar.
To start a healthy hair journey with natural products you must first know more about your hair as well as its likes and dislikes. There really is no point forcing it to do what is doesn’t do naturally on a daily basis if you true desire is to grow longer healthier hair. If you have a short chic haircut or plan to keep your hair at the length it currently is, the only thing you need to really know is the best styling products for your hair style and maintain an effective cleansing and conditioning routine. If your hair is longer than shoulder length and you plan to continue growing it out, the ends of your hair are much older and need specific attention and care to maintain.
Let’s do a hair consultation like we would a skin consultation. Here are a bunch of questions to help you understand your hair type and what makes it specifically unique. Once you know more about your hair you will be able to make any positive changes that you need to or get clarity about what you may already be doing that works perfectly.
Is your scalp oily or dry?
Does your scalp feel itchy? Is it flaky?
Do you oil your scalp and does it feel better or itchy afterwards?
Over time I’ve realized that my scalp is much happier product free. Oiling the scalp is tradition for many cultures. Ayurvedic hair care encourages oiling the scalp and hair and for awhile I had infused my hair oil with amla for healthy hair growth. Although my scalp is not oily, I’d rather keep it clear of any products to avoid a itchy scalp.
If your scalp is oily you probably don’t add any oil to it anyway. If you are using harsh hair cleansers you may be stripping your scalp of its natural oils that it may overproduce sebum, while drier scalps will only get drier with those same cleansers. That is also the same for skin care. Oily skin types will produce more oil if you disrupt its natural pH with strong facial cleansers.
For those who have drier scalps you may want to see if your scalp is better without oiling it. Then again your scalp may prefer oil. You may need to test it out between washes to really know.
If you have a flaky scalp, your skin could be negatively reacting to your current hair products. It could also be a sign of product build up or even dehydration and poor nutrition. Amla, brahmi, and neem Ayurvedic powders are wonderful for healing a dry flaky scalp and can be infused into a natural carrier oil or used in a deep conditioning treatment.
I believe the best way to understand the skin on your scalp is to evaluate it after being cleansed with a non-sulfate cleanser or conditioner, or even better a pH balancing green/black tea rinse, apple cider vinegar rinse, or aloe vera rinse. Apple cider vinegar should always be diluted in water in at least a 1:3 ratio for a hair rinse.
Our hair is naturally acidic. By using a pH balancing acidic rinse your scalp and hair will be happier no matter if your scalp is oily or dry. You may find out that it was the harsh sulfate cleanser that was irritating your scalp all along.
2. Texture and Porosity
What is your hair texture? Straight, wavy, curly, coily, zigzag, or a mix?
Are your individual hair strands fine in texture or thick and coarse?
What is your hair density? Is all of your hair together thin or thick? Think about the thickness your ponytail.
If you have curly coily hair do you have a lot of shrinkage and how much?
Is your hair porous and absorb water easily? Immediately after washing your hair does it feel mushy, wet, or super dry?
Understanding your hair texture is crucial for wavy, curly, and coily hair. We’ve been told to never comb wet hair, yet for wavy, curly, and coily hair this is in most cases the best and only time to comb your hair. All hair textures should be detangled with damp hair because hair is more fragile soaking wet and needs to be handled delicately.
Others prefer to detangle hair under running water with conditioner, and if that successfully works for you then continue to do that. Straight and some wavy hair is the only hair type that can be safely combed dry regularly. Always handle hair gently like the finest silk.
Understanding hair porosity will help you distinguish how often your hair needs to be moisturized or if it needs a protein treatment. If after your hair has been washed if it feel mushy your hair most likely needs a good protein treatment. I prefer light protein treatments like coconut milk. You could also look for natural hair products that have milk protein, wheat protein, and silk amino acids.
Hair with normal porosity feels wet after being washed and neither mushy or extremely dry. Deep conditioning hair 1-3 times a month or as needed based on styling damage would work well. Curly hair in usually dry in general and would benefit from weekly deep conditioning treatments.
Extremely dry hair after washing is in desperate need of extensive moisture. Moisturizing your hair daily is a must. Aloe vera juice is one of the best natural hair moisturizers for all hair types. I know nothing that works better than aloe vera for sealing the hair cuticle after washing your hair while balancing your hair’s natural pH.
Moisturizing the hair with a water based moisturizer or aloe vera juice then sealing in the moisture with a natural oil or hair cream is one of the greatest hair techniques I’ve ever learned. Camellia oil has become my favorite hair oil. I’m also a big fan of ceramide oils such as hemp seed oil and wheat germ oil. Extremely dry hair types may need to be condition washed or rinsed with water more frequently and deep conditioned every wash. Water is the only true moisturizer for hair.
3. Health and Hair Stress
How long is your hair and how do your ends look? Do you have split or frayed ends, single strand knots, or white bulbs near the ends?
Are you experiencing hair breakage and if so when?
Do you color or chemically treat your hair?
Do you have extreme shedding or a normal amount, around 60-100 strands daily?
Stress in our daily lives, diet, and medications all greatly affect our hair health. We can add more stress on our hair with how we handle it. Although you may not want to hear this heat styling can be extremely damaging to hair especially if you use it regularly. Limiting the amount of heat applied to hair will truly help it thrive. Air drying hair is the best way to dry hair.
Harsh chemicals such as color, perms, and relaxers are also damaging to hair especially if you are trying to grow long hair. Body art quality henna is the best solution for hair coloring. Here are examples of how you can mix henna with cassia and indigo to create many different hair colors. Henna is also the safest way to stretch waves, curls, and coily shrinkage with continued use over time.
No matter how you may put stress on your hair gentle handling and also wearing your hair up will allow it to rest. Trimming hair regularly by dusting the ends of the hair (cutting off no more than a half inch) is so much better than never trimming hair at all. Also the search and destroy method for split ends and single strand knots are beyond beneficial for healthy hair.
I will continue to discuss simple hair care tips, hair regimen ideas, hair tools, and help you navigate through the DIY hair recipes on Minimalist Beauty based on different hair types all in Let’s Talk Hair–Part 2.
(Image by Dawn Michelle)